Today's news

November 22, 2005

Jobs for the white boys
Academics are a competitive bunch. Fighting for funding, to be published and to attract students, the ivory towers have never been more cut-throat. But according to new in-depth analysis of who works where, and what they earn, those towers are also rife with shadowy forms of discrimination that promote white male academics above their peers. The Association of University Teachers has picked apart last year's figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency on academic wages at every institution in the country, according to gender and ethnicity. The report, the Diverse Academy, portrays the starkest image of discrimination in universities to date. 
The Times Higher Education Supplement (Nov 18), The Guardian

Head injuries caused campus death
A woman whose body was found inside a university building had suffered fatal head injuries, police said yesterday. The unnamed victim was discovered in the early hours of Friday at the University of Central England in Birmingham, shortly after a 34-year-old man was found at a nearby address with severe injuries to his wrists, neck and chest. Officers believe that the two incidents are linked and have confirmed that the woman's death is being treated as suspicious. A police spokesman said: "A post-mortem has revealed that the woman, who is thought to be aged in her 20s, died of head injuries."
The Guardian

Graduates given further jobs boost
The employment prospects for university leavers have improved for the second year running, according to a survey of graduates. The rate of unemployment dropped 0.5 percentage points to 6.1 per cent of the 204,165 graduates surveyed and who finished university in 2004, says the report published today. The authors of the What Do Graduates Do? report by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit said it showed the graduate labour market was cautiously re-gaining ground lost in the aftermath of the dotcom slump of the late 1990s and the general slowdown of the past five years.
The Financial Times

Suddenly everybody loves the students
The relationship between a town and its university can often be tense. But over the past few months, residents of Exmouth in Devon have stopped moaning about students and taken to love-bombing them instead. Behind the heightened serotonin levels is an announcement, made back in the summer by the vice-chancellor of Plymouth University, Roland Levinsky, that its Exmouth campus, Rolle College, would be closed in 2008. The education department presently based there would be relocated to the heart of the Plymouth campus some 56 miles away. Faced with the loss of 1,100 students, and the income they bring to the town - the university puts it at £5 million a year, local councillors at £20 million - Exmouth has mounted a spirited campaign to stop the closure.
The Guardian

Americans to pay millions to recapture battle flags
Four rare battle flags captured during the American War of Independence by a British officer have been returned after more than two centuries to be auctioned. The regimental colours seized in 1779 and 1780 by Lt Col Banastre Tarleton, who remains one of the conflict's most controversial figures, have already aroused huge interest among American military historians. They are expected to fetch between £2.3 million and £5.8 million at Sotheby's in New York next year.
The Daily Telegraph

Villa buried by Pompeii eruption is unearthed
An archaeological dig on the Amalfi coast has revealed the first luxury villa to be built in the idyllic fishing village of Positano, a popular haunt of today's rich and famous. Two storeys of a first century millionaire's abode have been found under a church which was hidden for 2,000 years by the same volcanic eruption that devastated Pompeii in 79AD. During renovation work on the church's crypt last summer, roof beams were found poking up just a few inches down. They revealed an enormous building that certainly would have belonged to an important person in Imperial Rome.
The Daily Telegraph

Lack of cuddles in infancy may affect development of brain
Depriving young children of cuddles and attention subtly changes how their brains develop and in later life can leave them anxious and poor at forming relationships, according to a study published today. Love and affection from parents and carers are vital to developing brain pathways associated with handling stress and forming social bonds, the researchers found. Seth Pollak, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, and colleagues compared the progress of children being raised by their biological parents in America with children who had come from crowded orphanages in Russia and Romania and had been adopted by American parents.
The Guardian

Asteroid lander misses its mark
The Japanese craft that was aiming to be the first to land on an asteroid, collect a sample and bring it back to Earth, has apparently failed on its initial attempt. Japan's space agency said on 20 November that the Hayabusa spacecraft experienced problems when it was less than 17 metres away from its target, forcing it to back off. Mission officials are not yet sure whether the craft should try again later this week, as originally planned. Hayabusa was supposed to touch down on the 540-metre-long Itokawa asteroid for just a second, shoot a tiny metal ball into the surface at a high speed and capture fragments of the surface.
Nature

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